Note: This feature appears today in the New Castle Courier-Times. I wanted to share it here because it is a tale of taking something old and seemingly beyond its prime and use -- an old school -- and out of it comes something new and wonderful! Affordable housing in a small Henry County town. A look inside the talents and imagination of George King.
Story and photos by Donna Cronk
KENNARD — Patsy Adkins graduated from the last class to use the old Kennard High School building in 1957. She loves the town and is excited to see Kennard Senior Living open. She appreciates the vision of co-owner George W. King of Greensboro.
King told her, "I want people to live here not because they have to but because they want to."
And he's working hard to create plenty of reasons that they would want to.
The complex, at 232 N. Vine St., is now open for tenants. The newly refurbished and re-envisioned complex is in the 40-year-old building known as Kennard Elementary School, which closed in 2015.
"You see so many schools that just fall in on themselves and I didn't want to see that happen," says King, who partnered with Eric Allen of Greenfield to purchase and re-do the property. The two men have done projects together for more than 30 years.
King, 70, radiates enthusiasm and energy for the project. "This came up," he said. "This is where my kids went to school. I thought: well, let's try it."
He says the building has good bones with construction designed to withstand an F-4 tornado, a new roof and heating and air systems in 2012. The new owners took possession in early 2016 and sought to create 18 units of living space: nine one-bedroom and nine efficiency apartments.
Each has a full kitchen, all-new appliances and ADA-approved shower. The units are all on the first floor with inside hallways and secured doors at the entrances.
There is a community room in what used to be the library, furnished with some exercise equipment, card and puzzle tables, billiards table and comfortable seating; onsite laundry room, picnic tables and grill, private family room with kitchenette (the former teachers' lounge) which can be reserved by residents to host family events, clubs or other gatherings. Each room is wired for service by Nine Star for internet and cable. There is well water and city sewer. There is an on-site manager there 24/7.
King, who is big on security of various kinds, says he spent more on a state-of-the-art fire alarm system for the building than for cost of the building.
"People could move in right now," says King.
While he's still finishing up work on the building, 11 units are ready to go right now. King says two former teachers in the building have expressed interest. He said one, who taught in the building for decades, hopes to live there and move into her former classroom, now an apartment.
More plans call for on-site storage units, at additional fees, as well as a barber shop. There's plenty of parking and if there is a demand for covered parking, he'll get it. Plans are in the works for opening The Old-School Cafe, which would be open to the public.
Housing is open to those age 55 or older but exceptions may be granted in special circumstances. The monthly rent is income-based, Section 8 housing. Or, for those who want to pay outright without the program, King quotes $650 a month as the rent.
Owners recently hosted an open house at the complex. King says he enjoys what he does.
"I think it's going to be very positive," he says of the venture.
For more about Kennard Senior Living, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-458-5757.